Within a letter I recently received a reader asked a question I thought worth answering. She wrote:
If I were in the room with a man abusing a child, and I could do something to stop him, I would be morally obligated to do what I could, right? So, according to my upbringing, God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He has the ability to protect every abused child in this world. Why is he morally exempt from acting? Either he wants to act, but is incapable, or he can act, and chooses not to. But I can’t think of a morally good reason for him to choose to allow the abuse to continue if he is able to stop it and protect a child who cannot protect him/herself. I’ve always admired your continued faith and rationality. You don’t often see faith and rationality together these days. So, I would like to know if you can provide some insight into my dilemma. Is it possible to believe in an all-powerful, loving God in the face of such a question? I will say I don’t think it’s a matter of God respecting free will. That would work as far as adults go, but how does respect for someone’s free will trump a child’s safety? No human on earth would be granted that moral leeway, so why should God? Okay, I could probably monologue about this question forever, but I would rather hear what you think because, at this point, I’m stuck. Thanks.
It is a matter of God respecting human free will. Our free will is what makes us who we are: it’s the defining human characteristic. God gave us free will because he loves us so much that he granted each and every one of us the power to reject him. That means we must love God out of choice—which is the only kind of love that’s of any real value at all. A love that is forced is no love at all.
We have free will; God gave it to us; out of his love for us he will not violate it. Ever.
We can do whatever we want. We can do whatever healthy, wonderful thing we want—and we can do whatever vile, evil thing we want. We can steal. We can rob. We can rape.
We can beat children.
Anything we want.
Violating the free will of a weaker being is one of the options all of us have in life. It’s a horrible thing to do: it’s the very definition of evil. But if you’re a fan of rational thought, then you’ve got to understand that the fact that people are free to violate the free will of less powerful people isn’t a sign that God is weak or morally corrupt. It’s a sign of just how sacrosanct God considers human free will.
The beaten child’s free will is being robbed. And that’s a heinous offense. But it’s not one being committed by God.
God witnesses such affairs, and cries.
Here’s a video I once made (via the free online tools available at xtranormal.com) about this very subject: